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Find Your Inspiration: How We Keep Millennials Happy with a Travel Stipend

Find Your Inspiration: How We Keep Millennials Happy with a Travel Stipend Credit: Fizziology

By 2025 Millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce in America. That means that the current generation of 18 to 34 year olds will be crucial to our economy. With such strong numbers in the workplace, management needs to learn what environment will best encourage Millennials, and what motivates their performance. Here at Fizziology, where 85 percent of our staff is under the age of 30, we believe a healthy share of that motivation lays in workplace flexibility and travel.

Millennials identify with an intensely different value set than what has been seen in the office in recent history. They aspire more to making a positive impact on the world through their work, want a collaborative work culture, and want to be able to experience the world through their endeavors. Millennials are 23 percent more likely to travel abroad than previous generations, and are projected to spend $1.4 trillion on travel by 2020. In fact, 62 percent of Millennials are likely to extend their business trips to better experience the people and lay of the land in any given area.

I know firsthand how inspiring it can be to get out of the office and gather inspiration from a locale other than home. Because a large portion of our staff doesn't need to travel to visit clients, we had a hard time finding opportunities for everyone to experience new markets. Typical business travel like conferences and client meetings can be great, but also expensive and not always fruitful. Out of this dilemma was born one of our favorite employee benefits: the "Find Your Inspiration" (FYI) trip.

By tapping into the wanderlust that has captivated this generation, we decided to offer working trips to other locales to help boost in-office creativity. As long as the employee has worked for Fizziology for at least one year, they qualify for a stipend renewable each calendar year to take a non-meeting work trip to a place of their choosing that they feel will inspire them in their work. They can work out of a co-working office, Airbnb, hotel or anywhere they have Wi-Fi. The requirements are simple: 1) They are there to work (but not to take client meetings); 2) There has to be a rationale for why this location is inspirational to them in their role; and 3) They take time to experience the culture of the city they're visiting.

So far, our employees have visited Portland, San Francisco, New York City, New Orleans, remote Northern California, Mexico City and Toronto for the Toronto International Film Festival. In 2017, many have their sights set further - to Poland, Iceland and Milan to name a few. Every employee has returned appreciative, rejuvenated and with new ideas on how they can best serve their role and the company. To help measure the impact, we have employees share photos and stories from their trip during all staff meetings.

"Unlike a regular vacation, our experience encourages an understanding of how the people in the the area live and work. Staying in Airbnb's instead of hotels and working from community co-work locations, gives us the chance to immerse ourselves more in the local culture." - Karen Woods, International Account Manager

"I spent time in Sedona for my FYI trip, and it was the most gratifying spiritual experience I've ever had. The trip made an imprint on my life I'll never forget, and I came back renewed and refreshed." - Joe Matas, Account Manager, Entertainment

So, you might need to rearrange a few existing company policies and as it turns out, that might not be such a bad thing. With millennials poised to rule three-fourths of the incoming workforce, employers need to think up creative ways to improve the existing work environment. Asking your employees what they want is a good place to start.

About the author: Jen Handley is the co-CEO and co-founder of social media research firm Fizziology. Handley works with film, TV, talent and brand clients to help them understand audience reactions to marketing and products, and devise new strategies for them based on research. Handley leads ongoing technology innovation efforts and the company's focus on new product development.

Edited for length and clarity by Nicole Fallon Taylor. Have a great entrepreneurial story to tell? Send your pitch to Shannon at sgausepohl@purch.com.